Monday, January 14, 2008

SkyWriting: Ian Impact Edition | by Pat

• With the freshmen skill players like Jimmy Clausen, Duval Kamara, and Armando Allen getting most of the fan attention this past season, it was classmate Ian Williams who is now being honored for his play. Williams, who only started two games in 2007, was named a Freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America.

Starting the year as backup to Pat Kuntz, Williams saw time in every game save the Southern Cal contest. When Kuntz went down with injury, Williams manned the nose tackle spot against Duke and Stanford. His 45 tackles were good for 6th on the team, just ahead of Kuntz. His numbers were also more than just late season surge against poor competition. He had 16 tackles in the first half of the season compared to 29 in the second half, with his single-game season high of 11 tackles coming against Navy.

After a full off-season gaining strength, perhaps Williams will assume the starting nose tackle spot in 2008 coupled with Kuntz moving to a defensive end spot. This will allow ND to maximize the thin returning experience at defensive line.

• Continuing their fine work Sunday through Friday, the ND football team achieved a fifth straight semester with a team average G.P.A of over 3.0. Prior to Charlie's tenure at ND, the highest team GPA (since such numbers were recorded '92) was 2.91.

Sticking with the academic theme, Notre Dame was awarded the 2007 American Football Coaches Association's Academic Achievement Award this past week in Anaheim, California. The annual award goes to the college program with the highest football graduation rate. This year, which represents the players who entered the school in 2001-02, the Irish tied for first place with Northwestern as 95% of the class graduated. Overall it is the 7th time that ND has won the award ('82, '83', '84, '88, '91, '01)

• Finally, as we hit the home stretch in recruiting, Irish fans who don't obsessively follow the minutiae of recruiting year-round have a great chance to play catch-up thanks to all-recruiting edition of Notre Dame Live. Watch as Tiffany and John talk about some of the incoming players and review selected highlight clips along with reporter and Irish Insight blogger Michael Rothstein.